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HARRIS, THAYER, DESIDERIO INTERVIEWS – LIFE IN GENERAL

THE KAREN HARRIS INTERVIEW

LIFE IN GENERAL

“Life in General” premiered on Strike.TV in late October. As part of this special three-part feature, I spoke with the show’s creator, “GH” writer, Karen Harris and two of the show’s stars, Brynn Thayer and Robert Desiderio.

This week, the show premieres in its new online incarnation with both parts: “Life in General” featuring the behind-the-scenes antics of a soap opera, married to its counterpart; “Greenville General,” which is the soap all the characters appear on in “Life in General.” Confused? You won’t be now with this new version. You can watch both components and get the entire intended experience!

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Karen Harris to get some insight into being a writer for a top soap, and to get the inside scoop on some burning questions “GH” fans want to know, and of course, to talk about her brilliant online creation, “Life in General”!

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Listen to the audio:

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MICHAEL:

Karen, it’s such a treat to chat with you, and we will get into all things soap writing and “GH” in a moment.First off, I really thought “Life in General” was terrific. Go over with me the creative process in your mind as Arian Zuker, Robert Desiderio, and Brynn Thayer were cast in the main roles. What were you thoughts?

KAREN:

The idea of “Life in General” started in the early 90’s when I went over to work at “GH.” I thought, “Well, what goes on behind-the-scenes of a soap is way more fun.” Now, I am not saying anyone on those shows is specifically someone I worked with. But as you work in the world, you get to know who they are and know who the icons are. Now you know a character like Raymond Kennedy is based on Irna Phillips meets Doug Marland meets Agnes Nixon.

MICHAEL:

And you had the idea for “Life in General” for quite awhile.

KAREN:

LIG.jpgIt was going to be a ‘dramedy’, a half hour, behind-the-scenes look into soaps. I even think I pitched it to Brian Frons who was at New World at the time. The networks have a hard time with shows that deal with the behind-the-scenes of the business, and maybe in broadcast television, it does have its struggles. I loved it so much that I decided to go back to it and create “Greenville General,” the soap opera they all work on. I never planned to make it a separate show. Then I sat down one day and I said, “I am going to write the teaser.” I wrote the whole 10-12 pages, which is the pilot, the show you are looking at on Strike TV. The characters are very much the same as I created. The inspiration for the first couple in “Life in General” was Bill and Susan Seaforth Hayes. The Days, played by Robert and Brynn have been divorced and remarried so many times, and on “Greenville General,” they cannot separate the two. I don’t want to say who it was but an actor who was getting divorced on soap said to me, “It’s hard to talk to each other when the lines aren’t being written” and that’s so true. So, that is what I am doing with this couple. That’s what happens when Brynn and Robert do these roles, and when Brian says to Ari, “You haven’t had anything good for me since you took me out of the wheelchair.” I wonder what inspired that. I put that line in after I left “AMC.” (She laughs.)

MICHAEL:

How did you decide to put Brynn in her role on “Life in General”?

KAREN:

She is always in the back of my mind. I had worked with her for 20 years. I went to see her one-woman play, which is called “Eulogy.” Judith and Robert were there and it was opening night. As a writer, she wanted me to see it and to give her my feedback. So I said to her, “I know it’s your opening night, but I am doing an internet soap pilot.” She said, “Just tell me where you want me.” When I saw Judith and Robert, something inspired me about Robert. So I called Brynn the next day and she put me in touch with Robert. He was a bit hesitant at first because it was acting on the internet, but we wanted to prove it could be done when the strike was happening. This group, Strike TV, was formed, and I heard them making an announcement at a Writer’s Guild meeting. I said, “I want to be there. It’s a chance to do a life without notes!”

ariane33.jpgMICHAEL:

Tell me about Ariane Zuker’s role, who I loved in it!

KAREN:

Ariane’s role is based on the anxiety of being the head writer on a soap.

MICHAEL:

Is she your voice?

KAREN:

She is as much my voice; but I am not a tall, willowy, blonde Shiksa from Atlanta!

MICHAEL:

But she is your voice!

GREEN3.jpgKAREN:

Yes, exactly. She is younger than I was when I first head wrote. Her background in my mind is she is a little more repressed than I am. In my mind, this character is a woman who puts on the page what she can’t live in real life. She is afraid and completely devoted to her writing and her career. It’s all a good excuse not to be emotional. She is kind of waspy, and she can write very hot. She lives her romance on the page but she does not get to live it in her life. She might meet someone in real life and fall in love, but she could not say it to them. So, she lets her characters do the talking. But what I tried to do with this is show the world of her work, and the chaos she goes through. Then, her world turns around. This episode is called “Out of Control.” She can’t find her leading lady. Someone is re-writing her show and characters are divorcing each other. When you watch the episode of the two scenes with “Greenville General,” they are both about not having control. At the end of the episode, she goes to her typewriter and says, “Things never turn out the way you expect them too.” That’s also Brynn’s last line in the soap opera.

MICHAEL

For those who don’t know, you are currently a script writer at “GH.”

KAREN:

Yes. This time around I just completed my third year and I’m starting a new three-year cycle.

MICHAEL:

Tell me your journey to becoming a writer on “GH”?

KAREN:

“GH” was my first soap. I had been in primetime television, writing a lot of character pieces, a lot of pilots and that was just in the 90s. I thought I needed to re-create myself. Wendy Riche was a colleague of mine at Universal, and when she went over to “GH” as executive producer, she asked, “You want to come over?” At first, I said, “No,” but she insisted it would be worth investigating.

MICHAEL:

But you had watched soaps before?

KAREN:

I knew from watching NBC. Their line-up back then was “The Doctors,” “Days of our Lives,” “Somerset” and “Another World.” I knew the genre. It’s interesting because I was not a devoted primetime soap watcher of shows like “90210” or “Dallas” or “Dynasty” or “Knots Landing.” I appreciated them, but they didn’t hook me. As a viewer, I, like Wendy, started watching. She said to me, “You could be a head writer in no time at all.” So I put myself into training for daytime. I did a nice transition to daytime. I loved writing it but it was an odd set up at the time. Bill Levinson was the head writer and I came in pretty arrogant. I thought I was hot stuff. I learned very quickly. Then they hired someone else to be the head writer. They hired Claire Labine who I loved working for. When she came in, she pretty much cleaned house and brought in her own team. We were all very flattered, those that got to stay. After three years, she decided to move on, so “GH” brought in veteran Bob Guza as head writer. Wendy said, “You will be his co- head writer.” I was thrilled! We spent almost a year bringing Carly to the canvas along with the Cassadines.

MICHAEL:

Tell the fans why holding the reigns of daytime soap is so difficult when you are the head writer.

maurice.jpgKAREN:

Being head writer is one of the hardest jobs in daytime. The first time out, I wrote the Sonny/Brenda story, which I am so proud of. I had a passion for Sonny and used that to develop his back-story. Maurice has often said that without my husband, Sonny would not exist, because a lot of the back-story is based on my husband’s rather tortured childhood. It is a difficult and demanding job. I remember pitching ideas to Wendy. It was a six-month long story. We worked so hard working all the points out, and Wendy said, “So, what comes next?” We had just given her six months of long story! You see, in daytime soap opera, it’s this machine that eats up material that makes it so tough.

MICHAEL:

So many in the industry, including myself, try to understand why some of the same head writers are constantly recycled into other soaps. I know part of it is that producers feel confident that they can handle the rigors of the quick turnaround.

KAREN:

It’s partly that, and partly that the producers and writing teams know that these writers can write for the pace of daytime. It is important to keep up that pace and be not as concerned as to the quality. If I had the chance to do it again, to be a head writer on a soap, it’s something you don’t do alone. For my own show, I would have a team. But for “Life in General,” it’s only 15 minutes of show. When you are writing or doing a show 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, you feel no matter how quickly you work, you can never get ahead. But currently, I am a scriptwriter which I love doing. I write one episode a week, and that is great.

MICHAEL:

On “GH,” who would you say is the hardest character for you to write for?

Nikolas-Nain.jpgKAREN:

There would be a couple for me. I have a harder time hearing their voices. If there is a good story to tell, then they all make sense to me. Sometimes Nikolas can be a bit tough, especially when we are going through a transition with him. For example, “What do we do now that there is no Emily? Where is his heart and soul?” So it was tough finding his humanness, coming out of the pain of Emily, and being charmed by Nadine, without
sacrificing him and his character.

MICHAEL:

What are your thoughts about where the writing team is taking Nadine?

KAREN:

With Nadine, she could be a little like Lucy Coe right now, if we write her that way. Lucy, over the years, became a different person on the scene. She was a bit more of a villainess but had that kookiness. If we write Nadine the right way, as a little bit of Felicia, and a little bit Lucy, it would be a good idea to interject this in the darker “GH” that we currently have. That’s how she struck me.

MICHAEL:

What about the character of Carly?

srah-brown.jpgKAREN:

Carly is off the wall, and Laura Wright is so brave. She is the bravest actress and the same with Sarah Brown. I just got to write a scene between Carly and Claudia that is great. Now it’s not a major plot point, but it’s a major part of the episode where they go at it. Sarah Brown does not say a line without sexual undertones. So you don’t have to write her flirty with Ric or Sonny. You can write her fairly straight ahead and
know that the actors will bring it.

MICHAEL:

Is it true for you that the actors influence writers?

KAREN:

Absolutely. If you are adept at what you do as a writer, the actors inspire you. When I first saw Maurice Benard, I sat in the booth. He had been on for a week. I saw scenes where Sonny was getting Karen to strip, and I said, “Oh my God. I just saw Al Pacino!” He then started to develop in my head. I was so inspired by him.

vanessa.jpgMICHAEL:

Ok, I have to ask. What about Brenda? Is there ever going to be a Vanessa Marcil comeback?

KAREN:

As you probably read, it’s been an ongoing conversation because she keeps getting work. My hope is that she might be available, but there are so many budget cuts going on right now. I don’t know if we could afford her. That’s just my thoughts about it.

MICHAEL:

What can we expect on “GH” in 2009?

KAREN:

I am not the head writer, so it’s not my place to tease it. But from what I have heard, Bob Guza has a pretty amazing story planned. It will be an umbrella story that will cover much of the canvas.

MICHAEL:

Who are your favorite characters or couples on “GH”? I think I know.

KAREN:

I can tell you that my favorite couple of the moment to watch is Patrick and Robin. I write for them a lot. There is a second wedding coming up. I did write the day before Thanksgiving, and it was a “time out of time” or a dream show. It was all Robin and Patrick. It’s a “sliding doors” idea. It answers the question, “What would have happened if we hadn’t met the way we did?”

jason-kimber.jpgMICHAEL:

Are there any episodes of yours coming up on “GH” that we can tease?

KAREN:

I just finished the New Year’s episode which was couples and romance. I used to write more mobster stories with Sonny because I was the action-adventure writer. Anything with mobsters, Claire Labine would give them to me. I came from “Night Rider” and action shows. Hopefully now at “GH,” we are a happy combination of “The Sopranos” meets “Grey’s Anatomy.” Since we are on five days a week, there is room for that. I know there are a lot of fans that think the show is geared more toward the mobsters than the hospital, but if you look at our mobsters, they are actually very interesting. Getting the Zacharras in the story, they are very gothic. Now that we don’t have the Cassadines, except for Nikolas, the Zacharra family brings that gothic element, one that is very sick and twisted. One of the challenges for me is to wrap my head around being in the room with those people. Good writing is “every character wants something.”

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MICHAEL:

How would you describe, “Life in General” if you had to quickly put a button on it for those who don’t know about it, and want to click on it and see it?

KAREN:

It is, in my opinion, a pretty accurate view of the craziness of the behind-the-scenes of the soap opera. It’s got the best actors. It’s so much fun. If you are a fan of soaps, I think you will get a kick out of it. If you have never seen a soap in your life, it’s still really entertaining, and it might make you more interested in watching a soap.

THE BRYNN THAYER INTERVIEW

Brynn1.jpgLIFE IN GENERAL

It has been ten years since I caught up with one of my all-time favorite actresses and human beings, Brynn Thayer. When I found out she was appearing in the new online soap, “Life in General”, I decided it was time for us to get together for a chat.

Many soap fans remember her as Jenny Wolek on “OLTL”. For eight remarkable years Jenny’s troubles and the troubles of her sister Karen, played by Judith Light, headlined the soap.

Brynn, known also to audiences from the TV series “Matlock”, was also integral in bringing Michael Zaslow’s final soap opera performance to the screen as David Renaldi battling ALS,
as Michael had in his own life.

Brynn and I talked about it all! Without
further adieu…

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MICHAEL:

This is so thrilling for me, because I have not talked to Brynn in a number of years and there is so much to talk about and catch up on! But, it’s starts with “Life In General”. How did it come about?

BRYNN:

Karen Harris, who is a friend, had this idea to do this behind the scenes of soap operas and it has a companion piece called “Greenville General”. She presented it to a website called Strike TV, which was created after the writers strike took place a year and half ago. Thirty percent of whatever revenue Strike TV makes goes to the Actors Fund, which is a charity that takes care of not only actors, but also behind-the-scenes, below the line crew people. If they have not been able to get a job since the strike, or if they need a job with their medical problems, the actors fund will help them do that. Karen got a lot of her friends together for a web series. We did it in a two-day period. It was shot in a warehouse somewhere…don’t even know where it was. It’s the personalities of these characters, and what they go through behind-the–scenes in the soap opera “Greenville General”. It’s the crazy antics of actors, producers, writers, and directors of soap operas and what goes on when the cameras are not rolling.

MICHAEL:

And the part you play is?

BRYNN:

I play the diva of the soap opera, “Greenville General”. My dear friend, Robert Desiderio, who is a wonderful actor and screenwriter, plays my husband. The character’s name was Rachel Carlton Day and Robert was Brian Day, and they were sort of named after Susan Seaforth Hayes and Bill Hayes. I am sure that’s who they were patterned after. That’s what Karen was thinking. Anyway, we are the couple that has been on the show the longest and we are married, but in the process of getting a divorce. We basically hate each other, but we are madly in love with each other when we are on screen. We had a ball doing it and I loved saying Karen’s words. She is one of my favorite writers on “GH”, and she has put this to paper and it’s all her creation.

MICHAEL:

When you and Robert saw the script, did you rehearse or just show up to shoot it?

Robert-Brynn.jpgBRYNN:

Robert and I just showed up. Karen had asked me to do this. I think we were all at a party one-day and she called me and said, “Will Robert play your husband?” I said, “Well I think he better!” So I called him and said, “Would you be interested?” And he got on board right away. I don’t think we ran the lines till we got there that day, but we played on the relationship we have in real-life, and we had so much history together as friends. Robert is married to Judith Light, who is my dear friend, and we were all on “OLTL” together back in the good old days.

MICHAEL:

You got to work with Ariane Zuker (Nicole) of “DAYS”, too. Did you enjoy working with her?

BRYNN:

I loved working with her. I blatantly asked her, “Did she have a mother on “DAYS”?” And she said, “No.” I said, “You need one!” She is quite a wonderful actress and beautiful to look at it.

Ariane3.jpgMICHAEL:

Did you like “Life in General” after you had watched it? Is it hard as an actress to watch your own work?

BRYNN:

I am a slut for TV. I like to watch myself, and it’s not hard. (She laughs) The way Karen Harris writes, when you read it you know you love it, and when I watched it, it was exactly as she wrote it. She writes such real full characters, that it’s a joy.

MICHAEL:

Was there a funniest moment during the taping?

BRYNN:

We had lots of laughs, and we all said, “If we get to continue this, count us in.” Well, Robert is one of the funniest guys. We are each other’s biggest fans, and I got to slam a newspaper between his legs! (She laughs)

MICHAEL:

Did you like playing the ‘Diva’?

BrynnLeopard.jpgBRYNN:

Oh yes, I loved it! I wish someone would hire me as the diva bitch! (She laughs)

MICHAEL:

So, what now is the goal with “Life” and “Greenville”?

BRYNN:

The goal is to get picked up and to do more episodes, because we are all moving so fast. A lot of us want our dose of soap operas each day, and we can zip through them. These are seven-minute episodes, and it’s a continuing story that we all love.

MICHAEL:

Now, let’s take a stroll down memory lane together. You have loved soaps for a long time, isn’t that correct?

BRYNN:

I loved “Love is a Many Splendored Thing” when I was in college.

MICHAEL:

And how did you finally end up on a soap and on “OLTL” as ‘thee’ Jenny Wolek?

BRYNN:

I was a schoolteacher and went to New York City, and was not sure what I was going to do. Then one thing lead to another, and I started taking acting classes. I took a class that Peter Miner, one of the directors of “OLTL” was teaching. He suggested I go in to read the role originated by Kathy Glass of Jenny Wolek, since they were looking for a replacement. And so, I knew I would not get it on my acting ability, because I had very little of it at the time. I was a huge watcher of the show, and Kathy Glass at the time, had this Dorothy Hamill haircut. So I thought, “I will go get my haircut like that,” because they usually recast someone with somebody who looks like the person who is leaving, so the audience doesn’t go crazy. I came in to do the final audition with Michael Storm (Larry), and I had my hairdo and I got the part!

MICHAEL:

Brynn, you were on “OLTL” at the time when it was the most spectacular. To this day, I don’t think there have ever been such exceptional actors in one cast at one time!

judith.jpgBRYNN:

It was so great, that we had all these incredible actors there at the time: Judith Light (Karen), Gerald Anthony (Marco), Steve Fletcher (Brad), Michael Storm (Larry), and Erika Slezak (Viki). They all had these extensive acting backgrounds, and they all are such giving actors. They knew I was really ‘green’, and they would meet with me before the show and work with me on the material for the next day. So they became my teachers, and that’s unheard of! They were so helpful. Now, I hear about jealousy and backstabbing. But this cast, at that time, I could not ask for a better situation… plus, they gave me all their secrets and tips. (She laughs)

MICHAEL:

But you must have been so excited and terrified at the same time. I mean, there were Erika Slezak and Judith Light to do scenes with!

BRYNN:

First of all, because I was such a fan, I would say to Erika, “Good morning Viki, I mean Erika!” I knew them only as their character. I was mesmerized. Judith and I were both only children at the time and both wanted a sister, and for whatever reason we became the closest of friends.

MICHAEL:

You were in the historic courtrooms scenes where Karen takes the witness stand and admits she’s a prostitute. Can you recall how the day of taping went down, and what it was like sitting there watching Judith deliver and perform her Daytime Emmy winning performance? Did Judith do it in one take?

judithold.jpgBRYNN:

If it was two takes, I am not aware of it. I think it was one. I knew I was witnessing something that was an historical moment in soap operas. I was very new on the show. I could not take my eyes off of her, and she is always doing something that is a surprise. I can’t take my eyes off her now on “Ugly Betty”. She was one of the only actresses that ever looked into the camera and broke the fourth wall. Judith looked straight in the camera at the audience, and Judith did it and got away with it. If some other person would have tried that, I don’t know if that would have worked, but with her it was like, “Oh my God, she is looking right at me!” Judith said, “I am going into their living rooms,” and she did, and she was amazing! In the courtroom scenes, you could hear a pin drop during the tapings. We would do a run-through but not on the stage. Judith did not put it all out there in rehearsal, but pretty much of it. She would do that, and she is a professional, and that took a long time because of the camera angles. She gave it 100% every time. Six months ago, I watched it again and it’s as strong then as it was thirty years ago. It’s a true legendary moment. I called Judith up crying going, “I just watched the courtroom scene,” and Judith went, “You are out of your mind!” She said, “Get a life.” I started out as a fan, so I will always be a fan.

MICHAEL:

But Brynn, you were pretty amazing yourself. Every one out there loved “poor” Jenny!

Brynn-Michael.jpgBRYNN:

I remember the first day I was on the soap. I was scared to death. I think someone was dying on the show during my first day and I had to be in tears. I had a scene with Lillian Hayman (Sadie) and Nat Polen (Jim). They wanted me to cry on a particular line, and somehow I did it. I was scared to death that if I didn’t do it I would get fired.

MICHAEL:

You and the late Michael Zaslow (Ex-Roger, “GL” and Ex-David “OLTL”) shared such a special relationship and friendship. What were your thoughts on this terrific man and actor?

BRYNN:

When Michael first came on the “OLTL” show, I thought, “I want a storyline with him.” I got a storyline with him, and it developed into this amazing friendship. We had so much fun together, with his family, his two girls and his wife, Susan. We did so much together. He was an extraordinary man. He taught me so much about life.

I think he is one of the finest actors I will ever get to work with and he’s that fine of a person. He had such a great sense of morality and truth. I respected that. He told you the truth but said it in a compassionate way, and I think that converted it into the way he acts, whether he was Roger Thorpe on “GL” or David Renaldi on “OLTL”.

MICHAEL:

You were very instrumental in bringing the ALS story to ABC Daytime with Michael. I believe Jenny has been killed in an avalanche, so David comes back without her to Llanview. Tell me how did this all come about?

michael.jpgBRYNN:

I went to Houston with Michael. His wife could not come. My husband and I were living in LA and they were in New York. It was suggested that he go to an ALS clinic in Houston. I met him there, and we spent a week there with him being tested and going through it all. It was extremely difficult. When we were there, we had the idea of Jenny and David coming back to “OLTL” and doing a whole ALS story. I think it was kind of something to look forward to and to be hopeful about, because of the news and information that was being told to him about his disease, and so I wrote it all out. It gave us hope. We called Susan, his wife, and told her about it. I came out to New York later. So, Michael, Susan and I, met with the ABC’s execs and we told them our plan. From the beginning, they were on board. It turned out it was better for them for me not to be in the storyline. So, they brought David back and he had a wonderful storyline with Robin Strasser (Dorian). I think it was brave and bold of ABC. I admire them for taking it on. It was a wonderful thing for Michael and I to be a part of it, and to help bring awareness to the public about ALS.

MICHAEL:

You were married to your then “OLTL” co-star Gerald Anthony back in the 80’s. Many fans seemed to be shocked that the two of you were married in real life.

BRYNN:

The writers called us in, and told us they were going to put us together on camera, after we had been going out. We were thrilled. We were having our storyline together, and we, of course, thought we were “hot,’ and then the writers called us back in the office and told us, “We are splitting your characters up.” and we were like, “What? What are you talking about?” They then go, “There’s no chemistry on camera.” We were hysterical and died laughing because here we thought we had so much chemistry. But then we got married anyway in real life, but I guess it was kind of foreshadowing! (He laughs)

MICHAEL:

You ended up divorced but you still stayed in touch with him, correct?

Brynn-Gerry-baseball.jpgBRYNN:

Yes. He was one of the loves of my life, and though the marriage did not work out our friendship survived. We talked to each other a lot on the phone, and kept up with each other through the years. Gerry was a special person. I have a real soft spot for him in my heart to this day, and always will. He was one of the most intelligent and bright people I ever met. I thought he was such a fascinating actor. I could not take my eyes off of him, and Judith Light and him together, was just the best.

MICHAEL:

Sadly, Gerry passed away a few years ago in 2004… that must have been hard for you.

BRYNN:

It was so sad. He was a great spirit, and a dear human being, and because of the crazy wonderful characters he portrayed people did not see the soft spot in him.

MICHAEL:

Now in 2008, “OLTL” just had its own baby-switch, with Bess switching Starr’s baby for Jessica’s dead baby. Jenny was involved in perhaps the greatest baby switcheroo of all time, when Karen switched Jenny’s baby with Katrina Karr’s. How was that to play?

BRYNN:

The baby switch was so much fun, and Nancy Snyder who played Katrina was also so wonderful.

MICHAEL:

When you watch “OLTL” now, who gets your attention?

BRYNN:

I love Trevor St. John (Todd). I have “OLTL” on in the background a lot, so when I hear his voice and Kassie DePaiva’s (Blair) voice, I usually always go to the television, because I think similar things about both of them. I think they are both surprising and I am always interested to see what they do, and I don’t get tired of them.

Robert-JudithThay.jpgMICHAEL:

Now you and Judith Light, and her hubby, Robert Desiderio, are very close and hang out together on many occasions, right?

BRYNN:

We are in touch all the time. My husband David, and Robert are good friends, and when we are all in town together, we go over to Judith and Robert’s. Judith is an amazing cook. They have a great kitchen, and when you walk in, she is one of those people that have the cookbook holder with a picture of the dish she is making, and the dish comes out better than it looks in the book! Now I am talking about whether its Blueberry crumble, or Roasted Garlic with extraordinary vegetables. It’s so much fun. I really only want to eat Judith’s food. (She laughs) When you open their freezer it’s like a festival!

MICHAEL:

I asked Robert why he thinks his marriage to Judith works. So, I will also ask you, what do you think makes your relationship with your husband David work? What’s the secret of marital success for you?

BRYNN:

David is a manager of comedians and he is very funny, that’s what makes it work for me. We laugh all the time. I have a stepson who is 31 named Mason. If I had been fortunate to have a child, I would have picked him. He is a great kid.

MICHAEL:

Brynn, what would you still love to do or play?

eulogy3.jpgBRYNN:

I am always up for a soap! I just finished a play, “Rabbit Hole” and I played the mother of the two daughters. I was a loud-mouthed drunk, and had so much fun doing it. I also wrote and performed in a one-woman show, directed by Michael Learned, called “Eulogy” and had a great time doing that. I would love to do another play.

MICHAEL:

What did you think of Judith and Robert’s new movie, “Save Me”?

BRYNN:

“Save Me” is a movie that Judith and Robert, and their managers developed. It’s a wonderful, touching, beautiful movie, and Robert is credited with the screen writing, and they got a movie made, and that’s a big deal! It got great reviews. The story is really about Judith’s character revolution. She tries to convert men that are gay, become straight, and they have these facilities in the country. It’s her journey.

MICHAEL:

Don’t you ever look back and look at the experience you had from being on “OLTL” and all of that, and just pinch yourself that you were a part of it all?

BRYNN:

Definitely! It was such a good eight years of my life on “OLTL”. I only have good memories of that.

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MICHAEL:

Finally, if people went online to view, “Life in General”, what would you tell them to expect?

BRYNN:

You will laugh, and it’s intriguing, with good acting, and good writing, and a good fast, quick fix.

robert2.jpgTHE ROBERT DESIDERIO INTERVIEW

“LIFE IN GENERAL”

He played Steve Piermont on “OLTL”, the man who nabbed Karen Wolek’s heart, and the two eventually went on the run together in the storyline. In real life, Daytime Award winning Actress, Judith Light and Robert Desiderio, ran away from Llanview and into each other’s arms.

Robert is one of television’s most accomplished actors. Soap fans will also remember his star turn as Ted Melcher on the hit primetime soap, “Knots Landing” in the late eighties.

Now, with an emphasis on a writing career, Robert has won the critics and audiences applause with his screenplay for “Save Me”. The film tackles the delicate and tough subject of a sex and drug addicted young man who is forced into a Christian-run ministry in an attempt to cure him of his “gay affliction”. Instead, he is faced with his truth in his heart and in his spirit. Chad Allen and Judith Light star.

I caught up with Robert recently for part of “On-Air On-Soaps”, “Life In General” special feature. Robert and his friend, actress Brynn Thayer, play the cantankerous couple of the online soap!

MICHAEL:

How did you get involved with “Life In General”. Was it through Brynn?

ROBERT:

Indirectly. Brynn was in a one-woman show, and Judith and I were at the after-party and Karen Harris came up to me and said, “You know, you would be good for this thing that I am working on.” I said, “Send it to me,” and she did. I told her it was great writing and I would love to do it. Brynnie and I shot it all in one day. It was great!

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Brynn.jpgMICHAEL:

You and Brynn played Rachel and Brian Day….the couple that would always fight.

ROBERT:

We are this couple who has this awful relationship off camera. On camera, it’s just as fueled. What I love about what Karen has done with it is that when you see the soap opera itself, the audience knows all the subtext because they have seen these two characters go through hell offstage.

MICHAEL:

They can’t get it together and they fight all the time?

ROBERT:

He is unfaithful, and she is bitter. They have been divorced and remarried multiple times. He is full of himself and he thinks he is the star of the show.

MICHAEL:

Without naming names, did you see people similar to Brian in your soap career?

ROBERT:

The truth is, I did “Ryan’s’ Hope”, “Search for Tomorrow”, where I played an Italian Prince with Rod Arrants (Ex-Travis Sentell), and “One Life to Live”. One Life was the show I had the most experience with. Nobody there was temperamental. It would be tough to memorize stuff everyday, but tempers would sometimes flare because of the level of tensions, because you had to get through material so fast. But, no one was a primadonna that I remembered. We are putting a little spin on it with “Life in General”. Personally, I don’t’ know anybody with the degree of narcissism that’s revealed as openly as Brian does on the soap. (He laughs).

robert3.jpgMICHAEL:

Would you do more episodes of “Life In General”?

ROBERT:

Absolutely! It’s really well done. Working with those little cameras, it’s easy to have it disappear for an actor. When you see it streamed on the Internet, you are very impressed with the quality.

MICHAEL:

“Life in General” can be found on Strike TV, which was formed as an online platform for writers to show their work during the writer’s strike. How did “Life In General” end up online?

ROBERT:

When all this discussion was going on during the writer’s strike, the Writers Guild said, “Let’s create something to show what this medium is,” and then anybody who is in the guild can submit something. They had 30 projects that they green-lighted and those made it to the Internet site.

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MICHAEL

How was working with Brynn again? You worked with her on “OLTL” when you and Judith were on the show back in the heyday, and it was amazing!

ROBERT:

I never worked with Brynn. I worked with Judith. You know, the gangster meets the hooker with a heart of gold. It was great. It was the early 1980’s when I came on, and my role was scheduled to last only two weeks long, but then something happened between Judith and I. Soaps are hard to write. It’s tough to write an hour a day, and sometimes they need all the help they can get, and we gave them help. They said, “Let’s write for these two.” They saw the chemistry between Steve and Karen.

MICHAEL:

But in real life, is that when you got together?

Robert-JudithDes.jpgROBERT:

We met during the show. The first time I met Judith, and I can picture it today, it was a scene in Ina’s boarding house. She was rehearsing. I saw her there, and it was like, “whoa!” There was a big connection there. I knew my storyline was going to be with her and I introduced myself to her, and it went from there. Judith and I will be celebrating our 25th anniversary in January.

MICHAEL:

Is it difficult maintaining a relationship between you and Judith, when both of you are in show business? What is the key to the success of your marriage after 25 years?

ROBERT:

I say the key is to talk through everything. We have two gentlemen who manage us who have been a couple for 25 years, Herb Hamscher and Jonathan Stoller. We started out as friends, since Judith knew them when she was in New York. Herb has a deep background in psychology, and Jonathan has the ‘think tank’ aspects of life. We started out as friends, and it evolved into a business relationship where Herb managed Judith and me, and Jonathan became our financial guy. We have a wonderful little unit where we are all able to support each other. It’s nice to have a neutral party outside of a couple. It’s not often comfortable, but it’s always alive, and even the discomfort is good if you are committed to work through something. That is the essence of why we stayed together at this level for so long. There is nothing we don’t talk about. We work on not coming from a place of blaming anybody. I grew up in the Bronx, and I did not grow up with this kind of mentality. So this is totally strange for me, but everybody has it in them to gravitate towards relationships and loving. The key is support.

saveme.jpgMICHAEL:

Your feature film “Save Me” has gotten rave reviews, and it’s so spectacular. I see Independent Spirit Award nominations coming. You wrote the screenplay, and Judith starred in it as Gayle and is one of the producers. How did it come about?

ROBERT:

Craig Chester, wrote “Save Me” as a farce 10 or 12 years ago. Over the years, the people who had the option on it wanted to make it a drama. I was asked to come in and do a complete rewrite of it to make it the movie it turned out to be. The screenplay is mine. The movie is great.

MICHAEL:

Do you enjoy the writing aspects of your talents more now than the acting?

ROBERT:

I do like the writing aspect, because you are creating the world. As an actor you are a hired hand, otherwise you take the job for money or because you like it. One of the things I challenge myself with is writing. I like it because I have a good sense of an audience, and that they may not want something too artsy. “Save Me” was entertaining, powerful and means something, but also something that could create a conversation, and that is something we did with the film. We wanted to create a conversation where nobody’s made wrong, which is the one of the things that is great about the movie. We have received feedback from Christian communities. We don’t make the angelic couple who run this appear wrong. They are misguided, but not evil. The audience can make up its own mind, but you just see the effect it has on somebody in the movie.

MICHAEL:

How did Judith come to this role?

chad3.jpgROBERT:

Chad Allen was involved in a company in New York, and asked Judith and Robert Gant to read it and put it on the stage. Then they talked about making it a movie, and this was 5 years before the film even got made. So they have all been involved since the beginning, and they were the producers and got the roles they were going to get anyway.

MICHAEL:

You and Judith have been so active in the fight against AIDS for so many years. You have been true leaders in the entertainment and LGBT communities and continue the efforts to raise awareness and funds. Where do you feel we are now with HIV/AIDS, not only domestically, but also globally?

ROBERT:

I think we can always be doing more. The financial situation in our current economy is devastating and affecting everybody. I think our hearts are in the right place. I think the rest of the world, which was resistant before because it was a gay disease, is being pushed aside more than ever. I think there is a transformation going on in the world with Obama taking over, and that is a symbol, and represents a tipping point where people will kind of live more as one. We can always be doing more with AIDS. People are dying by the millions in Africa and third world countries. It’s really tough!

MICHAEL:

When you looked back at your soap career, and playing the wonderful character of Steve Piermont on “OLTL”, what comes to mind?

ROBERT:

I loved doing the show and being in New York at the time with Gerald Anthony (Marco) and Michael Storm (Larry). I mean, these were really serious actors and it was a real family there. Robin Strasser (Dorian) and Erika Slezak (Viki) are still there… Robert Woods (Bo), Phillip Carey (Asa)… It was an all -star team. I loved the building we were in… the castle on 66th street.

Robert-Judith.jpgMICHAEL:

What do you think of your wife’s performance as Claire on “Ugly Betty”? It’s pretty terrific. Do you commute to New York often, since the show is now being shot in the Big Apple?

ROBERT:

I love “Ugly Betty”, and that cast is amazing. As tough as it was to relocate the show to New York, I think it was the right move. It takes place in New York and the city really affords a lot of opportunity, not only for actors, but that amazing scenery. So we are commuting a lot. I am in New York every two to three weeks. My home is here in LA. We talk every day or every other day and email a lot. It’s not more than three weeks that go by before we see each other again.

MICHAEL:

A few weeks ago the online website SoapsWeb.com had an All-Time Best Awards. They named Judith’s portrayal of Karen Wolek on the witness stand during Marco Dane’s murder trial, the greatest single moment EVER on soaps. What did you think of it?

ROBERT:

It’s great! Judith did a great job. You know, we started dating just before she won her second Emmy, so that was after all the courtroom stuff.

MICHAEL:

You were on the primetime soap “Knots Landing”. I remember the day Michelle Lee brought me to the set to visit and I got to see you again after many years.

ROBERT:

I loved it there, too. I got to work with Nicollete Sheridan (Paige) and William Devane (Greg Sumner) and Donna Mills (Abby). That was the group… the nefarious group. (He laughs) They were great.

MICHAEL:

So, what’s next for the ‘uber-talented’ Mr. Desiderio?

robert1.jpgROBERT:

I am trying to shop a pilot, and I am writing my first novel. I love it, and it keeps me sane.

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MICHAEL:

In closing, tell us what to tell your fans about why they should check out “Life in General”?

ROBERT:

Go see it because it’s really well done. I don’t know anything that shows you backstage of a soap opera. It’s really clever, well written, and it’s good laughter and it’s short, and it leaves you wanting more

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General Hospital

GH’s Roger Howarth Chats On Shifting From Franco To Drew & The Stunning Story Twist

In one of the most intriguing plots of 2019, General Hospital’s Franco Baldwin was morphed into Navy SEAL Andrew Cain following a harrowing mind-mapping procedure. In all went down thanks to Shiloh (Coby Ryan McLaughlin) and Dr, Cabot (Time Winters), taking the life and memories of Drew (Billy Miller) from his flash drive and transferring them into Franco’s brain, wiping out his past and his present.  That followed the tearjerker moment, when Franco sacrificed himself to free his kidnapped stepson, Cameron (William Lipton) from the twisted procedure; that could have left the teenager with Drew’s memories or even in a vegetative state.

The recipient of this storyline – and who would be taking on another persona in his storied daytime drama career – is none other than Roger Howarth.  The Daytime Emmy- winning actor is no stranger to changing fictional identities on GH.  Howarth, played OLTL’s Todd Manning over in Port Charles, later switching to Franco (previously played by James Franco) following the legal dispute between ABC and Prospect Park.

Last week, viewers got their first glimpse of Howarth taking on the traits of Drew circa 2012, and in short order, it has caused emotional upheaval for Franco’s wife, Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst), Drew himself, Jason (Steve Burton), and Kim (Tamara Braun)… and that’s just for starters.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Roger as he started his journey transforming his work from playing Franco to Drew and the challenges it presents, plus the ripple effect the change will have on the canvas for many of the characters.  In addition for One Life to Live fans, Roger chats about his appreciation for his time on that iconic series in a candid, self-effacing, and special conversation.  Here’s what Howarth shared:

Courtesy/ABC

When you were told that they were going to put Drew’s memories into Franco, what was your initial reaction to learning that news?  Did you think it was a great twist?

ROGER:  Yeah, I think it’s a great idea.  I really do.  Good story needs a lot of things, and this checks a lot of the boxes.  It brings people together; it provides obstacles.  There are a lot of places this could lead to.  I just think it’s really smart and interesting.  I look forward to it a lot, and I can already tell by what I have shot thus far that it’s going to be fun.

If this story is written well, what has happened to Franco will be life-altering and crucial to so many people’s lives in Port Charles.

ROGER:  What I like about it, and this isn’t lip service, is that it’s a great story because it affects a lot of people.  Those are the good stories.  Elizabeth has got to deal with this, the boys have to deal with this, Scotty’s (Kin Shriner) got to deal with it, Jason is confused by this information, and now this person in interacting with Drew, and Kim, and Shiloh.  All of the sudden, the canvas is interacting completely differently.  So, I think the writers are having fun with this as well.

Photo: ABC

Then, there is also the character of Kim played by Tamara Braun, who Drew shares a past with.  It will be interesting to see how that relationship plays out, we already witnessed Franco’s Drew instantly smitten and attracted to her.

ROGER:  Yes, the person in this body is running under a certain set of assumptions that no one else shares.  So, yes, it’s confusing to everybody, I am sure, including Kim.

Do you see Franco eventually flipping back and forth, and having personality traits of both he and Drew?

ROGER:  No.  One hundred percent, no, and that provides a real obstacle with a couple like Franco and Elizabeth.  They are always looking for obstacles to prove to the audience that these two people really do care about one another, and that’s the purpose of a story like this.  I’m guessing and hoping that it will provide the character of Elizabeth with a particular objective because it would be nice to see Becky be able to play all of those beats.

Right, and to have to fight for something…

ROGER:  Yes, it’s very tragic.  This is a character that is accustomed to tragedy, and to see Becky play the role of Elizabeth dusting herself off, trying to get what she wants is going to be really cool.

Courtesy/ABC

The tragic twist had Franco saving Cameron from winding up with Drew’s memories and being the vessel for Shiloh to use.  What did you think about how Franco sacrificed himself in order to protect Elizabeth’s son?  It was quite heroic.

ROGER:  I think the other beautiful part of this is that this was motivated by love.  I don’t see it as heroic.  I think as an actor, you’re always looking for the heart of the story, and the writers made it really simple.  He does this because he loves this kid.  Yeah, they’ve had their ups and downs, and they are struggling to figure out how they can get along, and they have a lot of things that they feel about one another, but push actually did come to shove, and I think that the character of Cameron is going to be deeply affected by that.

Courtesy/ABC

This now puts Franco deep within Shiloh’s storyline and past with Drew, because Shiloh desperately wants a key piece of information locked in Drew’s memories.  So, in theory, this kind of ranks among one of the better stories you’ve probably ever gotten to tell in your daytime career.  Everyone is hoping that it lives up to its expectations in the execution of it on-air.

ROGER:  It is certainly a high concept story.  It’s asking a lot of the audience.  So far, we’re all in.  It’s a good cast.  I work with really good actors, so I’m not worried.  It is asking the audience to suspend disbelief for sure.  The good stories do.  I think Erika Slezak (Viki) on One Life to Live, getting to play Dissociative Identity Disorder as Niki and Viki that was a large ask.  She never blinked.  She did everything that was asked.  I’m trying to follow her example.

Exactly, and she played more characters.  She had more alters after that.

ROGER:  (Laughs)  Yeah!  She’s better at this than I am.  I’m having trouble with the one. (Laughs)

Photo: ABC

What do you think about how Scott and Franco’s relationship will be affected, now that he is in essence “Drew”?

READ MORE
GH's Roger Howarth Chats On Shifting From Franco To Drew & The Stunning Story Twist

ROGER:  There’s no part of that relationship that hasn’t changed because there is no Franco.  Franco is not around … Franco has left the building.

He is a completely new person for all intent and purposes.

ROGER:  For sure.  This soldier doesn’t appreciate being called by somebody else’s name.  He is not compassionate to the people who mistake him for this somewhat tortured art therapist that he no longer is.

Photo: ABC

What is also interesting is that this should put you right into conflict and scenes with Steve Burton, because now you are essentially playing Jason’s twin.

ROGER:  Yes.  For me, as an actor, to get a chance to work with Steve, and to play a like-minded person, is intimidating frankly, but it’s exciting.

Also, the audience knows how Franco and Jason are such enemies, and now, he is really in his mind his twin.  

ROGER:  Yeah, Franco sees in many shades of gray and other colors, and from what I can tell, Franco as Drew sees the world much simpler.  He thinks more clearly, he finishes his sentences, he thinks before he speaks, he knows what he is going to say.  His point of view does not waiver.  He is determined.

Courtesy/ABC

That’s got to be so exciting for you to get to play after all of Franco’s psychological baggage and issues.

ROGER:  I’ve got to say, it’s been a bit of a challenge for me to play someone with a different set of speech patterns and who stands differently.  Because Drew thinks and feels differently about everything; his body is the same, but his body is behaving differently, and it speaks differently, and he thinks at a different tempo.  They’ve been very patient on set giving me chances to do it badly, so far. (Laughs)  It’s not uncommon for me to get halfway through a scene and to have to start over.   I am essentially figuring it out as we go along.   I am very appreciative of the fact that they have been giving me a few extra takes to try and figure out how this guy stands.  He relates to people with a different set of space and time.  It’s cool.  It’s a cool set of puzzles.  It’s been really fun.  I’m a lucky guy.

When I first learned of the story twist, I was like, “Oh! Roger will be great in this.”  

ROGER:  I don’t know, man.  I could be stinking it up pretty badly. (Laughs)  I think there’s a trap as an actor who has been asked to play twins, and the trap is that this guy is only acting the way that he acts.  The trap is frankly to act too much because the audience is being told that he is a different person.  If I go too far to try to demonstrate that he is a different person, then it slips into parody or overacting.  Over the years, I have definitely been guilty of overacting, so, I’m a little frightened of it. (Laughs)  I don’t like the way it feels.  I know how it feels to go too far.  I have been getting notes like, “You could pull it back a little bit.”  (Laughs)  It’s pretty funny.

Courtesy/ABC

In the past, I have heard you say you’d rather go to work and feel unsettled about what you are asked to play.  Does that still hold true?

ROGER:  For sure!  I’d rather go to work and leave my job knowing that it was terrible and that I get to come back the next day and make it a little better.  The best thing about daytime is how much it will stretch you and pull you and ask as much of it as you are willing to put in.

Now speaking of Franco, what did you think about the wedding reception on the yacht with Elizabeth?  Did you think that was a nice payoff for Friz fans? 

ROGER:  Yes, for sure.  I thought it was a really sweet culmination to a sweet story about these two people finding one another.  I’m glad they incorporated a large part of the cast.  It was a really good idea.

Photo: ABC

What did you think of how all of Elizabeth’s boys (Cameron, Aiden and Jake) performed a song for Franco and their mom at the reception, and how Franco relates to all of them?

ROGER:  I think it was a really important story point, and it was nice, and it was easy to play.  They’re really good kids, and they’re also terrific people.

Franco really stepped up as a stepdad to Aiden, who had been bullied at school.  I loved the cooking scene, where Franco was baking with Aiden.  What do you think about their relationship?  I love that Franco is being very understanding.

ROGER:  I think he’s trying to be understanding.  I don’t think he’s really great at it.   I think he’s a human being just trying to figure out how to make the best use of his time here, just like the rest of us.

Photo” ABC

General Hospital needed a big jolt with an umbrella story like this that turns the canvas a bit upside down.  How does it feel to be at the epicenter of it?

ROGER:   I really don’t think I’m the center of the story.  I’m not even kidding.  The story is that this piece of information is worn on the shoulders of Franco, but the people who are most effected by that piece of information are Kim and Elizabeth.

It will be interesting to see what the reaction is like from the GH audience.  You’re not on social media.  Will you check out what they are saying … or the feedback?

ROGER:  I’m not on social media.  But, I believe there is a guy whose job it is to track that initial criticism/support.  I think it is kind of cool that we will get real-time reviews, you know what I mean?  I actually thought about that because with the character of Franco, it took us a while to figure out who the guy was.  There was a lot of blonde hair and some missed cues, and we weren’t sure which relationship would be featured, whether it would be Franco and Ava (Maura West), or whether he would wind up in Carly’s (Laura Wright) arena again.  It took a while to figure out the best way to put that guy in the canvas, and I imagine that it will happen again.  I didn’t dye my hair for this, but I did cut it. (Laughs)

Photo: ABC

How was working with Billy Miller in this storyline twist?  Were you there on his last day on set?

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ROGER:  Yes, I worked with Billy not on his last day, but on his last show.  He was remarkable with dignity and with class, and I wish him all the best.  He did a great job.  He is a good actor.  I’m sure he will find somewhere to go be an actor.

Throughout your soap career, has there been a story that you initially pooh-poohed, but when you did it, you thought, “Oh, this is great!”

ROGER:   There was a story when Carly and Franco were together, and they wrote a story where Franco gave Carly a gift that wound up being a camera…

Photo: ABC

The evil-eye necklace!

ROGER:  Yes, this small seeing rye.  I just thought, every time Franco would come in and say something like, “Oh, you’re wearing the necklace.  It’s so beautiful,” while we were doing it, I was like, “Wow.  The audience is really going to hate this.” (Laughs)  However, my real-time Twitter is the subway, and while it was airing, I got on the train and sat next to this really amazing fan, who just told me how much she loved that story, and I was honestly surprised and pleased.  I am often wrong, and it doesn’t surprise me now when I am wrong  … because I was really wrong then.

You mentioned Franco with Ava which was a potential pairing. I think you and Maura West have always had great chemistry together on screen.

ROGER:  Yes, she’s a pretty great actor.  She’s great with everybody.

She is.  You knew Maura’s work first when she was at As the World Turns, while you were there, also?

ROGER:  I didn’t know her well at As the World Turns, but I knew who she was.  She’s a hard worker, and Jack (Michael Park) and Carly always had a lot to do.  She was pretty focused when she was there, but I spoke to her.  I didn’t feel like I got to know her until I got to work with her on GH.

Photo: JPI

Last month on July 15th would have been the 51st anniversary of One Life to Live. I saw a lot of people commenting and remembering the show on social media that day. I put together four photos on a post I made about that show featuring some of the remarkable actors who were a part of it.  From there, I received hundreds of comments of how people were just missing the series, the characters, and actors they loved in it, including you.  When you look at the list of people from yourself to Judith Light, to Robin Strasser, Bob Woods, and of course Erika Slezak – it’s such an unbelievably talented group who spent time in Llanview.  Do you ever think about what an incredible experience that was, and how the fans still miss that show so much?

ROGER:  All the time.  I mean, I’m a lucky guy.  I think it really was a special building to work in, and the people who we are talking about: Erika (Viki), Bob (Bo), Robin (Dorian), and Phil Carey (Asa), and Clint Richie (Clint), and John Loprieno (Cord), the people who made it possible for me to work there set an environment and a tone that made it a really special place.  It was a really good cast, like you said, and there was a lot of opportunity for them to write a really cool story.  I wasn’t a part of the AIDS quilt storyline, but to realize that they told a story like that and incorporated that into our show was wonderful.

Photo: JPI

Such an amazing story and One Life was telling socially relevant and important issues of our time, always.

ROGER:  I can’t say for certain, but I do believe that the original concept of the Todd, Marty (Susan Haskell), and Powell (Sean Moynihan) storyline was kind of supposed to be initially an effort to bring awareness to a horrible, violent crime.  That was a long time before the #MeToo movement.  I think it was a show where the writers had a social conscious as well and really brought awareness to a lot of different things.  That’s a great legacy and something that show should be very proud of.

Once the character of  Todd Manning took off on One Life, and how they found ways to redeem him, and how it spoke to how much the network, the show, and the audience responded to your performances, did you ever feel you had a bit of a safety net as an actor, or were you like, “I’m going to be fired tomorrow?”

ROGER:  This is truth: I am so grateful to have a job, and I don’t take anything for granted.  I don’t think anybody is safe in this business.  I just don’t.  I just don’t think anybody gets to say that they’ve arrived.  I just did a roundtable, and I shared this with people who have a lot more clout and opportunity than I do – that actors are by nature, the good ones, are aware that every day that you get to go to work is a privilege, and don’t waste it.

Photo: JPI

In soaps, for the most part, when someone is stepping into someone else’s role as a recast, or actor who played one role is changing to another, there seems to be this reactionary period of adjustment, and then, there is acceptance from the audience over time … unless you really stink it up  … as you say. (Laughs)

ROGER:  Here’s the thing, and this is why I think this is such a great idea, it’s not about me playing this part, it’s about how Elizabeth, who has been on this show for twenty-something years gets to react to it, and giving her the ball.  It’s flashy that Franco is Drew, but it is really and Elizabeth/Kim story.  I may be the one overacting and stinking it up, but it’s theirs. Do you know what I mean?  It’s not my story.

Photo/ABC

What do you want to say to the fans about this new “role” you are taking on at General Hospital?

ROGER:  I want to say that I really do appreciate the fans.  Here is the thing, they’re down for everything.  I hope they’re down for this.  It’s a big ask, but I really hope that they like it.

So, what do you think of Roger as Andrew Cain thus far and how the storyline is beginning to take shape?  Are you excited to see how Franco becoming Drew (through the mind-mapping procedure) shakes up the canvas? Do you hope Drew returns to be Franco sooner than later? Share your thoughts and theories via the comment section below.

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Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Stacy Haiduk and Eric Martsolf Talk Kristen & Brady’s Twisted Relationship : The Mask, The Deception, The Sex

Last week on Days of our Lives, Kristen (Stacy Haiduk) was able to get the man she craves in between the sheets.  So, just how did that happen when Brady Black (Eric Martsolf) had no idea she was alive?  Well … he still doesn’t, really.  You see, Kristen returned to Salem disguised as another ex flame of Brady’s, Nicole Walker (who everyone believed died in the warehouse explosion).  And Kristen has been parading around town donning an incredible likeness of Nicole’s face – via a prosthetic mask – and some other tricks to sound and look just like her!

Kristen’s goal is to infiltrate Salem, remind Brady of the love and passion they shared, take over DiMera Enterprises, and who knows what else!  And everyone who stands in her way, better watch out as we have seen! We are speaking to you (the late) Ted, and (once kidnapped) Kate, et al.

Fans of the NBC daytime drama series have followed the tortured relationship between Kristen and Brady for years and through many plots; Kristen was first played and brought to life by Eileen Davidson, and for well over a year now by Stacy Haiduk.  Not only has Haiduk reprised the role of a frustrated, vengeful Kristen, she is also playing at times multiple roles: the wacky and often misunderstood, Susan Banks, Kristen playing Susan, or Kristen pretending to be Sister Mary Moira.

As for Daytime Emmy winner, Eric Martsolf, this latest story arc puts him front and center as viewers watch to see if what Brady senses, and the clues, and the feelings he is having, bring him to the conclusion that he has been duped by Kristen, and that her horrendous scheme – pretending to be Nicole (Arianne Zucker), and dumping Nicole’s longtime love Eric (Greg Vaughan) to be with him have a result that is unexpected or catastrophic!

Michael Fairman TV sat down with Stacy and Eric for this conversation about: all the plot twists, and playing the drama and the humor of the situations they find themselves in as actors in a wild story that only head writer Ron Carlivati could pen and keep the audience on the edge of their seats in the process. Check out this oh-so-fun, direct, and enlightening chat with two of DAYS most shining stars.

Photo: JPI

Eric, what has it been like working in this part of your storyline; where there’s the character of Kristen in its many forms: Arianne Zucker playing “Nicole” (but it’s really Kristen), Kristen as Susan, and the real Kristen, etc?

ERIC:  It’s been a nightmare Michael.  (Laughs)  I don’t know who I’m sleeping with anymore.  I’m at the point where I go home at night, and I just tug on my wife’s cheek just to make sure that she is not my ex-girlfriend from high school.

When you first heard of this storyline, and that it was going to facilitate how Arianne was going to come back to the show… and that it was supposed to be Kristen in a Nicole Walker prosthetic mask with a voice alternator, what went through your mind?

ERIC:  I think in the back of Ron’s Carlivati’s (head writer, DAYS) mind, he was thinking to himself, “This dude started his soap career on Passions, he’s okay with this kind of thing,” and honestly, nothing surprises me anymore.  When you’re thrown into that supernatural, crazy reality, doesn’t-live-here sort of atmosphere for you first soap gig, you don’t sweat a mask and a voice modulator.  That’s just par for the course.  My biggest problem was the body thing … that Brady is not able to distinguish one body from the other, because I would as Eric.  My God, I know every inch of my wife’s body.  So, it’s difficult to get my head around that, but at the same time, I’m going with the whole “love is blind” thing here. (Laughs)

Courtesy/NBC

(Laughs) I was going just going to say that Brady would absolutely know Kristen’s body from how passionate their relationship has been in the past, as well, he would Nicole’s body from his relationship with her.

ERIC:  Since Kristen did finally just succeed – let’s use the word in “seducing” him, and using her wonderful feminine wiles as only Kristen has to get Brady in to bed, there was also another twist.  What plays after that is that he notices the tattoo that’s been removed, and she plays it off as scarring from the fire.  What’s going through his mind as he is making love to Nicole is a “Kristen train”.  He can’t get Kristen out of his mind, and the guilt that he feels about that is horrendous.

Right! Brady is thinking: “Why am I feeling this when I am supposed to be with Nicole!?”

ERIC:  Right!  Brady has been waiting for a relationship for God knows how many years now – at least a successful one.  He is so eager to have this work, even though he has been concerned about how Eric (Greg Vaughan) would feel about this.  In Brady’s mind, Eric is done with Nicole.  He’s good.  He loves Sarah (Linsey Godfrey).  This is fair game.  Brady and Nicole have always been close … they’ve been close before … so, for him, it’s, why not give it a fair try?   However, he finds himself now thinking about another woman the whole time.  That’s rough.

Courtesy/NBC

Do you think in the back of his mind, that this whole time, he possibly knew that “Nicole” was Kristen?

ERIC:  Well, you just have to wait.  There will be a reveal eventually, obviously, but until then, let the games play on.

So, once Brady and “Nicole” have sex, he keeps thinking about Kristen?

ERIC:  Constantly!  She just plagues his mind.  I think he’s realizing that his affection for Kristen is anything but dead and is very alive, and I think this is Kristen’s master plan from the very beginning.  She knows that she pervades his soul, and once she does reveal herself, I would guess he would probably be surprised, maybe a little angry, but in the end … you can’t deny what your heart and your body wants, right?

One of my favorite recent scenes had Brady half-naked and Kristen as Susan getting into his room, because she was looking for the MIA Nicole mask she so desperately needed.  She finds herself gawking and lusting after Brady under her disguise, and he tries to remove himself from the situation and says, “Susan, I’m going to get in the shower…”

ERIC:  Yeah! And, “It’s not going to happen, baby.”

What was that like doing that scene?

STACY:  I loved it!  I thought Eric was brilliant in it.  I watched it, and I thought, “Oh, my God!”  (Laughs) It is one of my all-time favorite scenes.

Photo: JPI

ERIC:  Kristen is a tiger.

STACY:  She is a tiger.  She’s got a goal, and she is going to go after that.  She has obstacles that are going to come in-between her goal, but she will go after whatever she wants.

When Stacy comes in to Brady’s room as Susan, were you not laughing?

ERIC: No!  I thought she was hot. (Laughs)

STACY:  He did … he loved it.  You liked me, didn’t you baby? (Laughs)

ERIC:  I don’t think anybody can deny that Stacy Haiduk’s portrayal of Susan Banks is ridiculously good.  Everything from her delivery … to her facial expressions.  I think it is amazing.  I mean, it is corny, and it is fun, and soaps need characters like that once in a while to lighten the load of the heavy dialogue and the drama.  It’s a welcomed addition.  So, I love playing scenes with Susan.

Photo: JPI

Eric, you always have been able play the straight-man so well in comedic scenes with impeccable timing,

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STACY:  You’re brilliant, Eric.

ERIC:  You guys are being very nice to me.

STACY:  You are.  I remember on the day how much fun we had, but then, seeing it back and the crap that I was giving you, and just the stuff you were giving back was so beautiful, and innocent, and so alive.  It was so funny.

Does Kristen think that now that she finally got Brady into bed that she won … that she got what she wanted … even if she had to don a “Nicole” mask to do it?

STACY:  Well, no, because she still can’t be really Kristen.  I think she is grateful that she gets to be with him.  That’s one of her biggest goals: to be with Brady and she wants to have him fall back in love with her again.  But for her, now it’s all about, “How do I reveal myself so that he doesn’t get scared away?”  That’s the toughest part for her.  Kristen’s love is so deep that it goes beyond this mask.  So, how is it going to be when he sees her?   Is he going to freak out?  What’s going to happen?

ERIC:  Did you think Kristen would be a little pissed off and think, “Oh my God.  He did go for Nicole?”

STACY:  Yes!  I do, because she’s like, “Finally, I got him!  But wait a minute … did I get him because I was Nicole … or because I was Kristen?”  As Kristen, she always believes there is something deeper between them and a deep connection.  That remains a driving force to her.

Photo: JPI

ERIC:  That’s why I love these characters so much, because of you and the history of Kristen with Brady.  She’s always wanted him as much as he has wanted her.  She’s always wanted to be loved.

STACY:  Yes … and very much so.

ERIC:  Kristen had always wanted to be a part of the DiMera Empire, just as Brady has always wanted to be a part of the Kiriakis Empire, and they’ve always wanted love.  They’ve never had it.  They believe in the back of their minds that anything is attainable.  So, I can see why Kristen would just forgo the Nicole disguise and just go, “He wants me.”

STACY:  Kristen wants to believe that Brady knows it.  She says to herself, “He knows it’s me inside and behind the mask.  When he finds out, he will fall back in love with me.”

Now that she actually had sex with Brady, wouldn’t that make Kristen even more insatiable to be with him? Like, “I’ve got to have him!?”

STACY:  The fear is still .. what happens she takes this mask off?  She always says, “I’ll reveal myself, but I have to do it slowly when it is the right time.”  I think there is that built up frustration now for her, absolutely!

Photo: JPI Studios

Arianne Zucker really has Stacy’s mannerisms down as Kristen.  It really comes into in scenes where “Nicole” goes off on someone or loses her temper.  Eric, you have worked with Arianne for years on this show.  What do you think about her performances in this storyline?

ERIC:  I have worked with Ari over the years, and I have enjoyed it a lot.  Ari did do her homework.  She did study Stacy’s tape, and she watched her mannerisms, and she took it very seriously.  I know that because she is a hard worker, as much as a goofball as she is, she does work hard, and she wanted it to be good.  I think my favorite parts were the Kristen meltdowns.  You have to understand though; Stacy and Ari get along very well!  They’re kind of two peas in a pod.  So, it wasn’t a big stretch for her to take on how Stacy would play those types of scenes.  They’re both animated, they’re both wild people by nature, and so, it was a good fit.  It was a smart idea from the writers.

STACY:  It was a good fit!

ERIC:  I’ve been out with the two of them, and it’s hard to tell the two of them apart. (Laughs)

STACY:  We are just like two cuddly bunnies.

ERIC:  They’re like flirting with each other, and hugging each other.  You find yourself thinking, “Are they going to start ordering the same food at the same time?  This is getting weird. (Laughs)

Courtesy/NBC

In the recent scene that aired; where Kristen as “Nicole” turns off the light while having sex with Brady, is she worried her plan will now go awry?

STACY:  Yes.  I think she is worried about her body because it is burned.  You know, how they take a tattoo off, and it’s as painful as can be.  Not that I’ve had that done personally.  I like my tats, but I hear it is painful.  So, in the storyline, the burn is that pain that she has and the tattoo. There’s a part of her that thinks,  she has to cover it up, and turn the lights down low.

ERIC:  “Nicole” is sleeping, and Brady is rubbing his hands over her shoulder and touching her body, and as he goes over the burn marks.  He sees a flash of the tattoo!  That is a pivotal moment when he starts to put some pieces together.   He thinks, “Woah! That’s exactly where that tattoo was.”  It’s a slow little rollercoaster ride.

Courtesy/NBC

In the past, Kristen then played by Eileen Davidson, drugged and raped Father Eric.  Stacy, did you ever see that story arc?  Literally the sex scene is playing on the screen at Kristen’s wedding to Brady and then all hell breaks loose.  This to say Kristen is notorious for the ways and the lengths she goes to get her men into bed.

STACY:  Yes! I saw her Eileen do those scenes.

ERIC:  You also saw how close Kristen and Brady were to their dream, to their happiness, their goal, which was they were going to marry each other.  Brady is looking upon his loved ones in this town and thinking, “I know what you all think of her, but I’m going to show you our love on this screen, and once you see the connection that we have here as a couple, you all are going to be convinced that we belong together as well.  This is the happiest day of my life,” and the screen comes up and it’s his brother banging Kristen instead.

Marlena (Deidre Hall) played the wrong DVD!

STACY:  It was so good.  See, I try to find as much info as I can on the character’s past, because all of the time I’m trying to find where these characters have been in their dark and twisted past.

Photo: JPI

ERIC:  You’re putting your own stamp on Kristen.  You got a direct call from DAYS casting department, didn’t you … when they were recasting the role?

STACY:  Yes.  You have to understand, I had two really separate characters to play when I was on Y&R.  One was a doctor, and one was this crazy passionate, wild, little minx.

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ERIC:  I will say to find the wild and the beauty in one package is not easy in any town, yet alone Los Angeles.  I’m glad they called you, because you have that.  You have that villainous nature, but you also are able to show a vulnerable side to Kristen that is going to be a lot of fun and interesting to see.

Stacy is one of those people that will leap off of the screen at you and you will remember her.  She is one actress that will have fans talking about their work, like when you played crazy Patty Williams on Y&R.  The audience was on the edge of their seats going, “Oh, my God!  What is Patty going to do next?”

STACY:  I never knew what she was going to do!

Photo: JPI

Eric, has Stacy come to you at any point where she been overwhelmed by the task at hand; playing Susan while playing Kristen, etc, and the two of you have a moment where you work through some of the challenges of complex scenes  … and ones where she is playing multiple characters?

ERIC:  We’ve had many moments  to speak of.

STACY:  I always come into Eric’s room, and am like, “I’m scared!”

ERIC:  It’s funny you mention it.  We have had some very emotional scenes, and Stacy – who cares so damn much about this job and portraying this character correctly – that she gets a little overwhelmed, and the material that they give her is overwhelming for any anybody on any level.  I have looked at her in the eyes, and said, “You’ve got this gig.  You are this character.  You are knocking it out of the park.  Just do it.  Just be you.”   I can’t wait for people to see some of the stuff we have shot recently and have been doing.

Photo: JPI

Stacy, do you think Kristen can be redeemed? Many characters on daytime … and on DAYS … have done horrible things and later turned over a new leaf.

STACY:  The thing is that villains are bad and all that other crap, but they’ve got a lot of stuff going on inside and insecurities, and they’ve got a heart.  I’m sorry, the villain with a heart of gold, can be very  true.  I never see villains (and I play them a lot) as bad.  You have to find where it comes from … how far does this go … where did that little seed change … and what made them go into the dark, but also, where is the good?  You want to bring the good to it, too.

ERIC:  Let’s face it!  Star Wars is all about Darth Vader and how he became that because it’s intriguing.

Because of the pace in which DAYS tapes its episodes; do the two of you find time to run lines together before you go hit the set?

ERIC:  We are running out of time to run lines.  It’s pretty wild.  Funnily enough, I was recently filming a movie and I was so underwhelmed at the pace of everything.  I’ve gotten so accustomed to moving at this militant style, that as hard as it is, it is preferable to me now.  I almost like it because you don’t have time to overthink what you are going to do, and you end up getting more visceral and natural reactions to the material.  You can overthink a scene, and you can come to a wrong performance that way.  When you burn your fingers on a hot stove, that’s the most natural reaction you are going to get.  You can’t have ten minutes to think about how you are going to scream about that pain.

Photo: JPI

But, would you like the pace of shooting the show to be a bit slower?

STACY:  I would like to, but I do think sometimes just jumping in, and going and seeing what happens is great.  I love that.  I do appreciate that.

ERIC:  It’s scary.

STACY:  It is scary.  I would love if we would get to do a rehearsal and then two takes just to see, and then they can mix  together what happens.  Sometimes I am hard on myself as an actress.  I’ve always been.  It’s that jumping in when you only get to do one take.  You have to just give it everything you’ve got.

ERIC:  You can have a second take.  Want me to give you a little secret?  All you have to do is screw up your last line.

STACY:  I can’t do that.   I don’t even need it to be perfect because nothing is perfect.  It doesn’t matter what I’ve done if I sometimes don’t feel it.  I need to feel it when I’m on that set.  I need to feel something because when I shut down, I close myself off.  It’s like an athlete who has just got to  train as hard as they can to reach their goal.

ERIC:  You’re an Olympic swimmer!

STACY:  You’ve got to do it as hard as you can.  You practice, and you practice, and you practice, and you practice, so that when you come to that day, you do the best you can, but sometimes you are disappointed because you didn’t get that one last thing you had hoped for.

Courtesy/NBC

How do you view what happened to Eric with Kristen, who disguised as Nicole, tricked Brady into bed with her?  Some fans commented that that they thought it was akin to a rape.

ERIC:  No, I would disagree with that theory.  I believe there is a high degree of deception in this, but there is a willingness on behalf of Brady.  He’s not drugged.  He’s not being forced to do anything.  Deception, yes.  Rape, no.

Stacy, what do you think?

STACY:  Total deception.  There is no rape.  There is absolutely no rape.  These are willing participants; he just doesn’t know exactly who he is dealing with.

ERIC:  I appreciate the context of how somebody could construe that, and the seriousness of the matter.  I don’t think it really has a place in this particular storyline.

Do you guys think that Brady and Kristen are each other’s star-crossed lovers in a weird, twisted, bizarre way?

ERIC:  I don’t know.  I think they’re magnetism can’t be denied.  I think the hurdles that they’ve jumped through are astronomical.  Will they end up together in the end?  Who knows!  Will there ever be an end?  Who knows!  It’s definitely been one of, if not the most, in-depth relationships Brady has ever had.

Photo: JPI

And intense!

ERIC:  Yeah.  They’ve just gone through so much to be together, and when you do that, anybody who is married knows that, that’s where the good stuff is; the wars that you win together and the battles that you go through.  When you come out of the war, and you’re still together, that’s the bond.  That’s what lasts.

What would Kristen do if she couldn’t have Brady in the end?  Would she find a new obsession?  What if she could not nab her man?

STACY:  Wow!  Hmmm. (Laughs)  She’s going to get her man.  She wants her man.  She wouldn’t settle.  She’d keep fighting.  I would say to her, “Kristen, keep fighting the good fight.”

So, do you think Kristen will reveal herself to Brady sooner than later? Will Brady figure out what Kristen has been doing to get to him?  Will Brady turn Kristen away if he knew she was alive and back in action  … or would he fall back into her arms? Share your theories via the comment section below.

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General Hospital

GH’s Rebecca Herbst Chats On ‘Friz’, Her On-Screen Sons & How Liz Has Grown-Up

Last week, Rebecca Herbst celebrated her 22nd year playing fan favorite Elizabeth Webber (now Baldwin) on General Hospital.  She made her on-screen debut on August 1, 1997.  And in those two decades plus in Port Charles, Liz has gone through many a rocky relationship, plenty of drama, and carried out some misdeeds of her own.  But one thing is for sure, Becky is loved by the fans of the long-running ABC daytime drama series who always want the best for her, and for Nurse Elizabeth.

Recently, ‘Friz’ fans got a moment they had long been waiting for when Franco (Roger Howarth) and Liz, and their friends and family (and some enemies) shared in their wedding reception.  But can their happiness last?  According to two psychics, Sibley Gamble (Veronica Cartwright) and Chelsea Lambas (Jen Ray) that Franco has run into in recent weeks, he better be careful.  That has made Franco concerned, while Liz is trying to get her family all on the same page, and it looks like her boys are coming around to loving and accepting Franco, too, despite what Liz’s ex Jason (Steve Burton) may have to say about it.

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Rebecca  at the GH Fan Club Weekend, where she made a welcome appearance, to talk about: how she sees Elizabeth’s relationship with Franco, her talented on-screen sons, and how Liz has grown-up since she started on the series, and more.  Here’s what Becky shared with us below.

What did you think of the long-awaited wedding reception of Franco and Liz?  The show finally gave them this joyous moment; after their jailhouse nuptials. Did you feel like the way the wedding actually went down it felt like it cheated the relationship, or did you like it?

REBECCA:  I felt the jailhouse wedding was a bit of a cheat, because they had tried two different times to have a really glorious wedding, so to do it in a jail cell was not the most desirable place. (Laughs)  However, the fact that the characters did actually get married and nothing came in between was a plus, and so, hey, they’ll take that.  Later, when I read in the scripts that there was going to be the reception, I was shocked, because I really didn’t think it was ever going to happen.

Photo: ABC

Do you think the fans were getting to the point where they thought this was never going to happen, also?

REBECCA:  For sure.  We all thought they Franco and Liz were never going to have their moment, or their honeymoon or any of that. I was really pleasantly surprised to see that not only did they write it, but it was beautiful!  It was also visually beautiful.  They put a lot of effort and thought into the show itself, and nobody died, and nobody fell through the roof.  Well, it was kind of funny that Obrecht (Kathleen Gati) got pushed off the ‘Haunted Star’, but according to Elizabeth, that’s just fine that Obrecht got pushed off the boat. (Laughs)  She didn’t die, so everything is good, but all in all, it was a really wonderful party.

What did you think when they had all of Elizabeth’s sons performing a song for the happy couple.  It was so cute, and touching.

REBECCA:  Oh, my goodness.  Those were real tears I shed.  That was so sweet.  So very, very sweet of them.

Photo: ABC

The show is growing the boys, so now you, as Elizabeth, have some young actors to play off of in your scenes.  How do you feel about that?

REBECCA:  Oh, I love it!  For so long, Elizabeth would only talk about her kids, “My boys, my boys, my boys, my boys in the attic.” (Laughs) Now, she has relationships, and very different relationships with each one of them.

I think that echoes real-life too.  A mother has distinct relationships with each of her children.  That’s what I like about Liz with her sons.  And as a mom in real-life as well, I am sure you can relate to this.

REBECCA:  Yes, my relationship with all of my kids is completely different, and I really love that it’s true for Elizabeth’s kids.  I attribute a lot of that to the writers, because they definitely write our relationships differently.  Aiden (Jason David) is still this baby who Elizabeth coddles and protects.  Cameron (William Lipton) is expected to be the man of the house and take care of things, and sometimes Elizabeth feels like she puts too much responsibility on him, but he is going to protect his mom no matter what.  Hudson (Jake) is so wonderful, too.  The fact that I have been blessed with three beautifully smart little actors is just a win for me.

Courtesy/ABC

Let’s talk about Aiden, who had been bullied at school by the other kids.  Do you think that story will be fleshed out?  It seems it may have been put on pause, because it would be an important story to tell for parents with LGBTQ children, if that is how GH ultimately chose to tell the story.

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REBECCA:  It is an important story.  I would love to tell the story.  There is a great message.  I don’t think we touched on it enough.   I think, for now, the best way to put a button on it is to send the message that we should accept our children with all of their wonderful attributes and personalities and whatever their interests, and let’s not label children, and listen to them and support them.   We should just all be kind.   I was sad when I would read some of the tweets about the story.  It saddened me to read people’s harsh opinions towards Elizabeth’s acceptance of her child.  Some people said that we should not be doing a story like this, and then there was the other half who said, “Just because he is a baker, doesn’t make him gay,” which is 100% true.

True!  TV viewers have certainly seen a lot of straight chefs on foodie or cooking shows, for example.

REBECCA:  Absolutely!  All three of my children in real-life love to cook.  There is nothing wrong with that.   I think we need to just continue to love Aiden no matter what, and he is not different than any of the other kids.

Photo: ABC

William Lipton has been amazing as Cameron, right?

REBECCA:  Amazing.  I know!  He is not only a great little actor, singer, and performer, but he has this beautiful little face, and he is such a grounded young man.  He’s a really sweet person.  You can tell he’s been raised in a really great house, and he has an amazing mom.

Because you are such a “mom’s-mom” in real life, do you think that helps you in how Elizabeth reacts to her children?

REBECCA:  I think so.  I always ask permission from my on-camera kids before a scene: “Is it okay if I kiss your little head?  Is it okay if I put you on my lap here?  Is it okay if I put my hands on your face?”  I’m not their mother, but when I think about what I would do with my real-life kids,  they’re always getting kissed and hugged and held by me, so I want to make it look as real as possible.  I have to think, “What would I do if this were Emerson?”  He’d be on my lap, and I’d be kissing his little neck.  So, then I have to ask Jason, who plays Aiden, “Is it okay that I kiss your neck, and if I kind of just like snuggle you?”  All three of my on-screen kids are so great, because they’re like, “Yeah, sure.  We don’t care!” and not all stage kids are like that.  They all are receptive of my love, and they just let me do it.  I think that is what is so sweet.

Photo: ABC

What do you think of this whole pairing of Elizabeth and Franco, and that you were paired with Roger Howarth?  Elizabeth has had many relationships on the show, so where does her relationship with Franco fit into her list of romances/relationships?  Do you think Franco is one of her great loves?  Over her life, Liz has had a lot of ups and downs, and at times, has not made the best choices for herself, or the choices she made just haven’t worked out in her favor.  I think we all can relate to somebody whose choices don’t work out the way they envision them to be.

REBECCA:  For sure.  I think each of Elizabeth’s relationships have been so different. Just to talk about a timeline: she was a little girl when she was with Lucky (Jonathan Jackson), and as she’s matured, so have her relationships.  However, I think the relationship she has with Franco is her first real adult relationship; in that she not only does respect him, but she respects herself.  She is not afraid to stand up to anybody for the sake of herself, or her children.  I think that is the difference.  In the past, she has been a little so head-over-heels in love that she would do anything, and now, she knows who number one is, and that’s her children, and she puts herself first now, too.  Before, Elizabeth did not matter to herself.

Photo: ABC

I thought Elizabeth treated herself badly.  Is there a self-loathing?  Did you ever that figure out as an actress where that comes from?  Do you think it was from when she was raped years ago?

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REBECCA:  I think it went deeper than that.  I think it was because her parents left her at such a young age, and although they were doing great work for whatever they were doing, she was left as a child.

So, she felt something was wrong with her if they left her behind?

REBECCA:  Yes.  I think that’s where her lack of self-esteem came from.  She just didn’t have that support at home when she needed it the most, especially when she was a teenager.  You need your parents around you to tell you that things are awkward and weird, and you’re changing, but you’re going to be okay.  She didn’t have that, and so, she kind of had to figure it out on her own.  She did it through her relationships with men, and she didn’t have men in her life who were telling her, “You’re going to be okay,” except for Lucky, but that was a younger relationship in her life.  Now, as more of an adult with Franco, he tells her she is going to be okay.  Franco believes in her as much as she does now.

Photo: ABC

What’s the best part about working with Roger … and what’s the most challenging part?  Is it some curve balls that might come from when you are going live-to-tape?

REBECCA:  For me, I know I can totally work around whatever comes out of his mouth. (Laughs)  I’m good with that. (Laughs)  The most challenging thing about working with him is that he is constantly losing his glasses, so he can’t see his scripts.  It’s always at the end of the scene.  It’s like, “Where are the glasses?” (Laughs)  So, if losing his glasses might be the most challenging thing, then I’m a pretty lucky girl!

Where does Jason (Steve Burton) fit into Liz’s life at this point? 

REBECCA:  We’ve not really established that.

Courtesy/ABC

Since Jason has been back on the canvas, not much has been played between them.

REBECCA: They had a relationship, they have a relationship, and they have a friendship.  It should be played.

What would you love to see happen to Elizabeth story-wise, that perhaps you have not gotten the opportunity to play?

REBECCA:  I would love to see Elizabeth be happy with Franco and just explore whatever that means for her in a long-term, adult sense (because she doesn’t really know how that is yet), an adult happiness, while trying to navigate the kids’ lives, but also having a friendship with Jason.  I think that would be interesting, because she has always held a torch for Jason.

Photo: ABC

Viewers are currently alarmed that Franco has been receiving warnings from two psychics.  On last Friday’s episode, Franco is clearly afraid to take a drive and in Cameron’s new car (the one Oscar gave him) due to the psychic, (Chelsea) telling him: “Don’t take that drive!” Does Elizabeth have something to be worried about? 

REBECCA:  Yes, but she’s going to hang on to Franco, and make sure nothing happens to him … until he doesn’t come home (laughs) …  and then she’ll be calling Jason! (Laughs)

So, what did you think of the sentiments shared by Rebecca?  What did you think of the Friz wedding reception, and Liz and Franco’s relationship?  What do you think of Liz’s relationship with her children?   What are your hopes for Liz moving forward? Comment below.

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